Welsh union and retailers working to ‘find solutions’ to beef sector concerns

NFU Cymru has said it is in talks with retailers and industry stakeholders to promote Welsh beef as the sector struggles to absorb the ‘unprecedented’ impact of Covid-19.

The union said that market disruption brought about as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic is an added blow for Welsh beef producers, who had already had to suffer a sustained period of low prices for their products.

NFU Cymru Livestock Board chairman Wyn Evans has been spearheading efforts to support the beef sector, meeting with major retailers to highlight the quality of Welsh and British beef and encourage the promotion of this sustainable, healthy, quality and affordable product to the consumer.

Evans said: “Finished beef prices have been under pressure for the past 12 months and this has been exacerbated by the effects of Covid-19 which has seen the closure of the foodservice market, both domestically and in our key exports markets.

“The scale of disruption that we are seeing in the supply chain is truly unprecedented.

“The effective closure of the foodservice sector has seen the loss of a home for a significant proportion of the higher value cuts of beef, most notably steaks and roasting joints.

Whilst there has been an increase in demand from retailers for mince and other lower value cuts of meat, this has not offset the loss caused by the closure of pubs, cafes, restaurants and fast-food outlets, leading to a significant imbalance in returns.

“Over the past week, I have been in discussion with a number of the major retailers, exploring how they can better promote some of these higher-end cuts of meat.

“I am also aware of the fantastic efforts that independent butchers, farm shops and other independent retailers are undertaking to continue to ensure that our consumers have access to great-tasting, sustainably reared PGI Welsh Beef and PGI Welsh Lamb.

“I know many who have come up with innovative social distancing solutions in their shops and have embarked on home delivery for the first time.

HCC has responded to the Coronavirus outbreak with a strong social media campaign and I very much hope that this can tie in with promotions that retailers may be planning over the next few weeks.

“Later this week the NFU Cymru Livestock Board will be meeting the chairman and chief executive of HCC to discuss this in more detail and plans for further promotion work going forward.”

Evans added: “Our thanks go to all those working in the red meat supply chain at this time, from the primary producer through to hauliers, auction markets, processors and all those involved in retail and distribution.

“Most importantly, we thank the consumer for their continued support for Welsh farmers and we ask that they continue to look out for PGI-assured beef and lamb from Wales.”